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Coming At Us From All Sides

It’s all but final now. Last efforts to force Roselle’s City Council to produce a detailed environmental impact statement have failed. The woods across the street are history.

Surveyors have appeared in recent weeks as well as people in hard hats who look at charts and blue prints and then point at the woods. They’re going to build a community center with a swimming pool and gym, and a school. The complex will be called “The Mind and Body Complex” and will take at least 15 years to complete. I’ll probably be dead before its finished, but will be alive to see the destruction of about 200 trees and to experience the noise, dirt, and disorder.

And now residents of the area have learned that we will also have the privilege of housing a segment of the Pilgrim Pipeline which will transport shale oil south and refined products, like kerosine, northward. It's slated to pass by about ten blocks from my house.

A golf course in Roselle has already been replaced by a housing development. People used to ski there when it snowed. I don't like golf or golf courses, but at least it was green and open.

It’s probably too late to sell my house. I don’t know if I have the energy to move.

The real estate people and the extractive industries won’t be happy until they’ve turned the surface of the earth into a moonscape or an oozing sore. All the lakes and rivers where I fished when I was a kid—often from the shore, have been “developed”. The lakes and rivers now need to be “re-stocked” every spring because the leakage from power boats and the destruction of the ecosystem from tearing down woods and building houses have killed the trout, large mouth bass, and pike that lived in lakes like Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake.

When I visited friends in Sunset Beach, California in 1970, I was appalled to see oil rigs protruding from the Pacific Ocean. The sight recalled some lyrics from a song by The Door’s called “When The Music’s Over”:

“What have they done to the earth? What have they done to our fair sister? Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn And tied her with fences and dragged her down.”

The assault is everywhere: Fracking in beautiful Wyoming (1126 fracking wells), Colorado (18,168 wells), North Dakota (5166 wells); there are 33,753 wells in Texas. Even Montana is blighted by some 264 wells. There are more off shore rigs than ever, and more landscapes ravaged by strip mining.

In South America, cattle ranchers and the extractive industries continue to eliminate the lungs of the planet at the estimated rate of 80,000 acres a day. In California, 96 percent of the original old-growth coast redwoods have been logged.

I could go on and on. No place to run. No place to hide.

I feel the same despair voiced by Philip Larkin in “Going Going”,

…before I snuff it, the whole

Boiling will be bricked in

Except for the tourist parts -

First slum of Europe: a role

It won't be hard to win,

With a cast of crooks and tarts.

And that will be England gone,

The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,

The guildhalls, the carved choirs.

There'll be books; it will linger on

In galleries; but all that remains

For us will be concrete and tyres.

Most things are never meant.

This won't be, most likely; but greeds

And garbage are too thick-strewn

To be swept up now, or invent

Excuses that make them all needs.

I just think it will happen, soon.

Under Trump, things will get worse, as they would have under Hillary.

All is lost, or soon will be.


  1. C January 27, 2017


    what are you going to do about it?

    • Harvey Reading January 27, 2017

      Nothing much can be done short of revolution, and people aren’t up for that. This country has been on track to a new gilded age for a long time. Its common people are too brainwashed into believing that what is good for the wealthy is good for them. When you have a political system that is dominated by “two” right wings, and a people conditioned to do as they are told, and never to question authority–rather worship it–there is little hope, no matter what blow-hard politicians and others more common may belch.

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